First a disclaimer: If you’re interested in trophies, the one at the left can be bought online from Dinn Brothers for $72.00. A Baldrige Award will cost you many, many times that amount. If you want to improve your business, increase your profits, make your customers and employees happy, and get more enjoyment out of life, read on. If you want a trophy, save yourself some time and expense and check out Dinn Brothers’ web site.
Yesterday, we talked about some of the self-evaluation tools available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Baldrige Award people. Today, I’d like to introduce you to the “Criteria for Performance Excellence”.
First, there’s no magic in the criteria book. It’s basically a series of questions, covering seven categories of business management. When you answer the questions, you paint a picture of your business. If you apply for either a local award or the Baldrige itself, you will receive feedback from experts in business excellence that you can use to improve. It’s the feedback, not the award, that gives the program its value.
But, even if you never apply for an award, the process of asking and answering the questions will give you more insight into your company than anything you will ever do, short of hiring a professional consultant and spending thousands of dollars.
- Strategic Planning
- Customer and Market Focus
- Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management
- Workforce Focus
- Process Management
In scoring for the award, the Results category is worth 450 out of a total 1,000 points, so obviously results are very important, especially to you.
It’s important to mention that the Baldrige process, either at the national or local level, doesn’t tell you how to run your business. They don’t care what your process is, they just want to know that you have a process.
It takes time to look at your total business and identify the processes, but once you do, improvements should come easily. Quality isn’t something that you do. It’s not something extra added to your daily task list. In fact, good processes save time and money and deliver a better product or service.
The first section of the Baldrige criteria is called “Preface: Organizational Profile”. If you looked at the E-Baldrige Organizational Profile mentioned in yesterday’s post, then you know the questions asked in the profile. In broad terms, the Organizational Profile asks “What are your key organizational characteristics?” and “What are your key challenges?” If you can answer these two questions, you’ll have a pretty good handle on your business. If you can’t answer them, then finding the answers will be an education all by itself.
If you haven't already, download a copy of the Criteria for Performance Excellence from the Baldrige web site. Print out the Organizational Profile section and the associated instructions. Read them while you're at lunch, or in the evening while you watch TV. Can you answer the questions? If not, where can you get the answers? Some questions you'll be able to answer off the top of your head. Some may take some research. Ask you staff for help. Make it a fun project.
If you can answer every question, you will know more about your business than the majority of business owners in the United States and you'll have a huge advantage over your competition.
And, it won't cost you a dime.